Friday, November 10, 2017

Slice and Dice: Butternut Squash

Butternut squash risotto
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a fine time to start scouting out delectable side dishes. In our house, it’s sacrilegious to exclude mashed potatoes and stuffing from the menu. There’s less fervor associated with the other sides, and I like to use winter squash, in one of its many forms, to ensure that no one leaves hungry. After the holiday rush, I continue to use butternut squash and its thick-skinned brethren to add substance and, often a touch of sweetness, to salads, soup, and casseroles. Chances are prepping the versatile veggie is easier than you think.

How to Select and Store Butternut and Other Winter Squash

Winter squash varies widely in color, shape, and size. Nonetheless, always select squash that feels rock hard and seems heavy for its size. If possible, opt for squash that has its stem intact as it helps to preserve the vegetable's moisture. To maximize  shelf life, store butternut and other winter squash in a dark, dry, and cool spot such as a pantry.

How to Prep Butternut Squash

Thoroughly wash and dry the squash. Place it on its side on a cutting board. With a chef’s knife, cut half an inch off of either end of the squash.

Cut off top

Cut off bottom
Stand the squash with the wider cut end on the cutting board. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin.

Peel off skin

Slice the squash in half lengthwise.

Slice down the middle into two

Remove the seeds with a spoon. 

Remove the seeds with a spoon

To roughly chop, place one half of the squash on a cutting board with the cut side down. Slice it in half width wise.

Slice in half width wise
Place a quarter of the squash on a cutting board with the cut side down. Slice across the squash every inch or so lengthwise.

Slice across length wise

Carefully rotate the cut pieces 90 degrees and slice across the squash lengthwise every inch or so.

Repeat with the rest of the squash.

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